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Cauliflower Salad

This Cauliflower Salad recipe is not your average mayo salad! Instead, it’s a restaurant worthy, Thanksgiving worthy salad boasting plentiful, caramelized roasted veggies, juicy, sweet craisins, popping red onions and roasted, salted, crunchy pepitas all bathed in an exotic vibrant, garlicky, herb chermoula dressing. The end result is hypnotic, satisfying and will keep everyone coming back for more! Best of all, this Cauliflower Salad is make ahead friendly to eliminate all that last-minute stress and can last days in the refrigerator. I’ve included everything you need to know about how to make Cauliflower Salad, tips and tricks and ways to customize this Cauliflower Salad recipe with veggie swaps and add-ins to make YOUR favorite Cauliflower Salad!
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings

Ingredients

Roasted Veggies

  • 1 large head cauliflower cut into large bite-size florets (about 7-8 cups)
  • 3 cups carrots chopped into 1/2-3/4” pieces (about 4-5 carrots)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder *
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH pepper, garlic powder

Add later

  • 1/4 cup unsalted pepitas or sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion

Chermoula

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  • Add cauliflower florets and carrots. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with curry powder, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread veggies out in an even layer so the florets aren’t touching.
  • Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes OR until cauliflower and carrots are tender-crisp. Meanwhile, make Chermoula.
  • Add all Chermoula ingredients to your food processor and process until smoothing, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times.
  • Remove roasted cauliflower and carrots to a serving bowl. Add pepitas to the same baking sheet and toss in the leftover oil/spices from the veggies. Spread in an even layer and toast at 425 for 5 minutes.
  • Add pepitas to veggies along with craisins and red onions. Add desired amount of Chermoula (you may not use all of it) and gently toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Tips for Cauliflower Salad

  • Cauliflower shortcut.  Cauliflower is easy to chop but you can also purchase a bag of florets, just make sure they aren’t too small. 
  • Don’t use frozen cauliflower.  Seeing as this is Cauliflower Salad, it is important to set yourself up for success in texture in flavor by using fresh and not frozen cauliflower.   
  • Uniform veggies: Try and cut cauliflower a relatively uniform size and carrots a uniform thickness so they roast evenly. Again, don't chop the cauliflower too small.
  • Dry cauliflower: Dry the florets with a kitchen towel or salad spinner because the dryer the cauliflower the crispier it will become.
  • Easy cleanup:  I recommend lining a baking sheet with foil when roasting the veggies for easy cleanup but you can also add the veggies directly to the baking sheet. Either way, spray surface with nonstick cooking spray.  I do NOT recommend parchment paper because the cauliflower doesn’t caramelize as well.
  • Spread in an even layer: Spread the cauliflower and carrots in an evenly layer on a baking sheet so they are not touching.  This ensures the veggies will cook evenly and so they will roast and not steam.
  • Don’t overcook. Normally, you can’t really overcook cauliflower, but for this Cauliflower Salad, you don’t want the cauliflower so tender that it’s falling apart in the salad. It is better to shoot for cauliflower that still has a little bite.  
  • Test for doneness.  There are several factors that affect the tenderness of the roasted cauliflower such as floret moisture, floret freshness, floret size and actual oven heat so it is important to test your cauliflower at 20 minutes and cook on if needed.
  • Subdue red onion.  I love punchy red onions, but if they tend to be too strong for you then place them in a fine mesh sieve in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Dry thoroughly before adding to the salad.
  • Dressing to taste.  You can customize the chermoula to taste by adding more or less lemon juice, more or less garlic, more or less cayenne pepper, etc.  You can also use as much or as little dressing on your Cauliflower Salad.

Cauliflower Salad Recipe VARIATIONS

  • Add protein.  This roasted Cauliflower Salad recipe is filling enough it can stand as a healthy vegetarian main dish or you can add protein such as shrimp, salmon, chicken, steak or pork.  Try marinating some of the protein in the chermoula for extra flavor.
  • Add grains. Adding cooked brown rice, quinoa, couscous etc. immediately introduces another delectable texture and is easy to accommodate by stirring in additional chermoula.
  • Make it a green salad.   You can stretch the Cauliflower Salad and add some greens by mixing in baby arugula, spinach or kale. 
  • Add chickpeas. Rinse and drain a 15 oz. can of chickpeas and roast them with the cauliflower and carrots.  You will want to scale up the roasting ingredients to accommodate the extra volume. 
  • Add sweet potatoes or butternut squash.  You can swap the carrots for sweet potatoes or butternut squash or add them in addition to the carrots.  Again, you’ll want to scale up the roasting olive oil and seasonings. 
  • Add zucchini or red bell peppers.   You can add other veggies such as zucchini or red bell peppers.  I don’t think these veggies need to be roasted but if you choose to, take care not to roast them too long so they don’t become too soft.
  • Swap onions.  Swap the red onions for chopped pickled red onions if they’re your thing – yum!
  • Swap nuts.  I think every salad needs a nut or seed so if pepitas aren’t your thing or you already have another nut on hand – use those!  Buttery cashews would be extra fantastic.   You can also use pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, etc.

Storage

Cauliflower Salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

MAKE Ahead

I love Cauliflower Salad for so many reasons but one of them is you can make it 100% ahead of time because it doesn’t get soggy like lettuce. That being said, it is still very best fresh but the good news, you can prep the veggies and dressing ahead of time:  
  • Vegetables:  Chop the cauliflower and carrots and toss them with olive oil and seasonings according to directions.  Spread them out on the baking sheet, cover and refrigerate.  When you are ready to make the Cauliflower Salad, roast them according to directions.
  • Dressing:  You can make the chermoula three days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.